Fertility Centers of Illinois and RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association will recognize National Infertility Awareness Week®, April 23 through April 29, joining millions of women and men struggling to build a family, health care professionals, mental health professionals, and other thought leaders to promote greater awareness about infertility. According to the CDC, one in eight couples in the U.S. experience infertility and it has been reported that infertility affects 45 million couples worldwide.
To support this initiative, Fertility Centers of Illinois is offering free events, free Fertility Awareness Checkups ($90 value) and educational information. Registration and a full list of NIAW initiatives can be viewed at FCIonline.com/NIAW.
“Is infertility uncommon?”
One in eight couples experience difficulty in achieving or sustaining a pregnancy. It is likely that you know several people who have experienced infertility challenges!
“Why can’t pregnancy happen ‘naturally’?”
Conception can be impeded by factors such as medical diagnoses, lifestyle habits, cancer treatment, prescription medication and excess body weight. For some, the cause of infertility is unexplained. Common female infertility issues include ovulatory disorders, poor ovarian reserve, PCOS, endometriosis, or fibroids. Hormonal imbalances and semen issues commonly contribute to male infertility.
“Am I too old?”
A decline in healthy eggs and perimenopausal hormone changes can make conception and pregnancy difficult at a later maternal age. That being said, the most common pregnancy outcome at any age is a healthy baby. With age, men may also experience obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure. These health issues as well as the medicine used to treat them can cause infertility.
“Are we having problems because we are ‘missing’ the fertility window?”
If couples aren’t trying to conceive preceding and during ovulation, pregnancy will not be possible. Some couples use ovulation prediction kits or log menstrual cycles to pinpoint the ovulation window. Couples with a woman that is under 35 should try for one year before seeing a physician, and couples with a woman over 35 should try for six months prior to medical assistance.
“Is pregnancy loss rare?”
Approximately half of pregnancies will result in a pregnancy loss, with most of miscarriages occurring before a woman has missed her period. Of all pregnancies that occur, 15-25% will result in a loss.
“What are the risks and side effects of treatment?”
The main risk is overstimulation of the ovaries, which is why regular ultrasound monitoring is required during the stimulation phase. Patients are monitored every other day and at times for consecutive days to ensure safe treatment.
“What are my chances of success?”
This will vary widely based upon age, medical diagnosis and previous medical history. Your physician should be able to discuss your personal chances of successful conception and pregnancy during a visit.
“How much time do I have to take off?”
Very little or none at all. During ovarian stimulation cycle the ovaries are monitored roughly every other day for two weeks. These short appointments can take place before working hours. An IUI procedure, egg retrieval or embryo transfer can be scheduled on a weekend, but may require a weekday appointment based on cycle progression.
“What does my insurance cover?”
This answer will be different for everyone, particularly based upon state law. States such as Illinois mandate fertility coverage, but this is limited to employers headquartered in Illinois with at least 25 employees. Ask your benefits department whether your employer is self-insured or exempt from fertility coverage, then confirm coverage with your insurance company.
“What are the costs involved?”
This will vary dependent upon insurance coverage and state mandates. The average out-of-pocket cost of an IVF cycle is $10,000-12,000 including medication. Costs can be reduced by participating in medical research studies, applying for grants through the Kevin J. Lederer LIFE Foundation or CADE Foundation, and discussing how to access discounted medicine with your physician. Payment programs and discounts for self-pay patients are also available.